It’s one thing when characters make bad decisions; it’s another when the plot gives them no choice.
As a young woman, Katherine (Tara Reid) used a Ouija board at an off-limits family property where a tragedy once occurred, barely escaping with her life. Thirty years later, Katherine (now played by Dee Wallace) is about to lose her home, but not if her daughter Laurie (Carly Schroeder) has anything to say about it. In an attempt to complete a book deal with her college thesis and get an advance to save the house, Laurie invites her boyfriend Nick (Mark Grossman) and two friends (Derrick A. King, Grace Demarco) up to the same house she never knew her mother had escaped from. Faster than you can say “heebie jeebies,” bad things start happening and evil makes its appearance known… insert sinister laugh here.
First off, the title does generate a bit of confusion as it has nothing to do with the Hasbro-funded Ouija and sequel Ouija: Origin of Evil. Meeting the filmmakers at the screening revealed another bit of info: what if the Ouija board was the entire house? Aside from the fact that Ouija is specifically a trademark of the game — are they allowed to use it like that? — the idea isn’t terrible but could fall apart in the execution. How does one turn an entire house into a talking board… and how can you make that scary for the occupants inside?
There are glimmers of hope here and there, but in general the entire production was doomed by a one-pass script in need of serious doctoring, never mind the filmmakers’ confession they shot it in “just” two weeks. Maybe if the story was being played for laughs as well as horror it could have worked, but what we get is disjointed tedious lines with unmotivated character actions too serious for what’s on-screen. There’s no rhyme nor reason for the characters to speak and/or act other than to further the plot, and even that only leads to weirder and unrelated revelations that burst from nowhere. The conclusion makes even less sense than the uninspired setup, satisfying no one and making viewers question their life choices.
Oh look: a door I’ve never seen; shall I go in? Sure, everyone on the property just happens to wander in and see me standing here. Hey: a gilded tome at least a thousand pages thick, but let’s just flip a few pages and discover all its secrets written in a language I’ve never seen. Hey everyone, I drew all over myself; there’s clearly nothing wrong with me, so let’s play a game! One of those rules you should never, ever break? We’re gonna break that rule tonight… for research! What could go wrong?
One could assume the shooting script made little sense and the tone shifts from foolish to frightened could be due to severe editing to avoid reshoots. Unfortunately, it feels more like the opposite: a script written to force characters into ridiculous situations no reasonable person would subject themselves to coupled with revelations to solutions no one could divine… unless you’re reading from the script. When a throwaway part like the one Grace Demarco is saddled with ends up being the plum role, you know something isn’t working right. Have these folks seen a good horror flick?
No one likes to suggest someone filmed setting fire to millions of dollars, but there were plenty of missed opportunities here. One of the filmmakers mock-suggested a sequel was already in the works — “Ouija Pool” — or was that a joke? It was difficult to watch not being sure if it was meant to be serious… the perfect metaphor for watching this movie. Does this thing even have a rating? Here’s one:
One skull recommendation out of four
C’mon now! Even the house knows what’s up: